What is an Intervention Specialist?
The Role of an Intervention Specialist
What is the role of an intervention specialist? What does it mean to have this expertise? Is it the ability to moderate a meeting of relatives and friends in order to confront an addict? I’ve been doing interventions for nine years, and have helped about 250 families at this point, and I can say from personal experience that if you want to get an addict into treatment, that it usually takes a lot more than the orchestration of a meeting.
I also used drugs and alcohol for nearly 25 years. I can say from that experience that getting an unwilling addict into treatment usually involves a lot more than holding a meeting, from an addict’s point of view. Addicts are unscrupulous manipulators, and dug deep into control mechanisms based on crisis, creating fear, panic, pity, sympathy, worry, concern, alarm, so the idea that a single meeting will somehow circumvent these devices is at best a long shot, and at worst completely inane.
An Intervention Specialist needs to be ready for war. “Plan for the worst and hope for the best” has been my motto during my years as an intervention specialist, and it has served me very well. In planning for an intervention, you have to plan well beyond the initial meeting, and even then, an ambush with the entire family might not be the best course of action in the first place.
I always tell people that the purpose of an intervention is not to do an intervention; it is to do whatever is necessary to get the job done – to get the person into treatment. It is not a meeting, it is a process that may take a day, it may take a week, but it takes what it takes. If a family goes into an intervention believing that they’re going to have a meeting and that will somehow equal an intervention, then they need to brush up with a seasoned drug addict in order to fully understand and appreciate what is required.
Any family needs to be wary of hiring just any interventionist. A lot of therapists and wannabe interventionists have flooded the market in recent years, and have very little clue as to what really works. Believe me, I know – I’ve cleaned up their messes. They boast high success rates but upon inspection they are truthfully abysmally low. They use barbaric tactics and most think that confrontation is a grand idea, leaving behind a worse catastrophe than when they began. This is not to discourage anyone from finding a seasoned professional, but just be careful of your own sense of urgency interfering with your good judgment. Repairing an intervention gone wrong is never as easy as taking the time to do it right in the first place.
The ideal intervention specialist is an ex-addict. As any addict will tell you, it takes one to know one. And in no other field is this truer than in addiction counseling and interventions. Addicts to not play nicely with others, typically, and if they do, it’s usually a delay tactic or smoke and mirrors that are behind it. Not that addicts are malicious, most are not. But addicts are survivalists. If you dropped one in the middle of the Gobi Desert they’d find a way to their drug of choice. Even addicts who are “willing” to go to treatment often never arrive there and are in as much need of an intervention as anyone. If they’re not on their way in, you may need to call a professional intervention specialist.